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Ohio


Ohio Supreme Court says age must be a factor in juvenile life sentences
Ohio high court says such sentences presume rehabilitation is not possible
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE


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M.L. Schultze
 
In The Region:

The Ohio Supreme Court has ordered a judge to reconsider his sentencing of a teenager to life in prison with no chance of parole. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on the latest question about whether children convicted of even the most heinous crimes can be rehabilitated.

LISTEN: Ohio high court on juvenile sentencing

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The 5-2 decision says a judge must consider the age of a child as a mitigating factor before opting for one of the harshest penalties under Ohio law.

Seventeen-year-old Eric Long and two adults were convicted of aggravated murder in shootings in a Cincinnati neighborhood in 2009. All three were sentenced to life in prison without parole.

In his appeal, Long said the judge should have considered his age before levying that sentence.

And in siding with Long, Justice Judith Lanzinger cited a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in an Alabama case that found a mandatory sentence of life without parole for a juvenile is cruel and unusual punishment. Ohio’s sentence is not mandatory, and Lanzinger says it still could be imposed on Long. But, she wrote, “because a life-without-parole sentence implies that rehabilitation is impossible, when the court selects this most serious sanction, its reasoning for the choice ought to be clear on the record.”

And that, she said, must include a careful look at a defendant’s age. 

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